Russell Westbrook owns the clutch. This ringing five-word refrain has epitomized a season of enduring fourth-quarter heroics for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The latest of which occurred Sunday night vs. a baleful New Orleans iteration chasing its first win since undertaking the DeMarcus Cousins/Anthony Davis experiment.
And while much of last night’s contest wavered in and out of OKC’s competitive grasp, Westbrook suddenly and spectacularly encapsulated his rarefied campaign with a late-game throwdown over DeMarcus Cousins’ outstretched arm. This accented the MVP hopeful’s 21-point fourth-quarter.
Thunder's Russell Westbrook hammers a dunk on Pelicans' DeMarcus Cousins (all angles) pic.twitter.com/8HGt8sd7KL— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 27, 2017
As the final horn blared, Oklahoma City had swept its four-game set with New Orleans, 118-110.
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook notched triple-double (41 pts, 11 reb, 11 ast) #29 for his 34-25 Thunder.
OKC now rests at a season-high nine games above .500 as its winding 82-game ledger has but 23 contests remaining.
In addition to Westbrook’s derring-do, here are other pithy observations from Oklahoma City’s 16-17’ finale vs. New Orleans.
- Enes Kanter appears fully mended: Two nights after a pedestrian return, Enes Kanter showcased pre-injury form by dropping 20 points, nine rebounds, and three assists against a stout Pelicans’ front line.
- Alex Abrines’ three point stroke: In place of injured Victor Oladipo, Abrines has made his mark from downtown while rounding out the starting lineup. During his last two contests, the 6’6 rookie has shot 8-of-18 from deep.
Abrines’ floor-spacing capabilities have opened crucial lanes to aid Russell Westbrook’s drives to the rim.
- Steven Adams’ intensity: From the onset, Adams sported an extra amount of ferocity during OKC’s rendezvous with New Orleans.
Much of this added aggression likely sprang from a Jan 15 incident in which DeMarcus Cousins thrust the New Zealander to the hardwood, thus causing Adams to miss a pair of games while in the league’s concussion protocol.
On Sunday night, Adams (13 points, 10 rebs, —9 offensive— 13 double-doubles) gained a satisfying measure of retribution.
- Andre Roberson’s offensive efficency: In a pleasant twist, hard-working defensive standout Andre Roberson (6.8 ppg, 26/42 3PM/FTM split, -2.4 OBPM) has connected on 12 of his last 13 field-goal attempts — including four consecutive three-point baskets.
Obviously, WTLC’s own Bobby “Last Chance” Chancellor hit the nail on the head when he stated that Robes’ offensive uptick is probably due to post trade-deadline relief.
Oklahoma City Thunder, Lines of Wonder vs. New Orleans:
- Russell Westbrook: 36 mins, 41 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 14-of-29 FGM, 11-12 FTM (We’ll just overlook those nine turnovers)
- Enes Kanter: 23 mins, 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 6-9 FGM, 8-of-10 FTM, +21 (team high) plus-minus
- Steven Adams: 29 minutes, 13 points, 10 rebounds, nine offensive rebounds, 6-of-10 FGM (1-of-5 FTM, Gotta rekindle that free-throw touch, Steve)
- Andre Roberson: 30 mins, 9 points, 6 rebounds, 4-4 FGM, 1-of-1 3PM
- Alex Abrines: 34 mins, 3-7 3PM (exactly half of OKC’s six makes from deep on the evening), 13 points, 3 rebounds (the rookie showed a bit of moxie on the glass)
Quote of the night:
Billy Donovoan regarding Russell Westbrook’s fourth-quarter efforts:
"I think he holds himself to such a high standard. Tonight, it's three quarters where he did a lot of really good things, but he'd probably say his turnovers were too high and he made some poor choices. But he has an incredible ability, in my opinion, in terms of winning, to be able to flush what's going on and really focus on what he needs to do. I think it's a unique quality that he has. I think it's a real telltale sign of how important winning is to him."
The Oklahoma City Thunder will enjoy Monday off before returning to the court Tuesday night versus Northwest Division leading Utah in the final game of a three-game home stand.